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Honeybee Armageddon

Updated: Apr 9, 2018

We have been drenching the environment for 40 years with neonicotinoids in a species war against insects. Michael Gove has finally managed to ban them for use in the UK. The downside is that we may soon have to be cleaning squashed bugs off our car windscreens. In the 60’s I had to stop my Ford Prefect regularly on a warm summers evening to do so. Safe from neonicotinoids, the battle for better bee health needs to shift to the basic bee hive design. We continue to hark back to the past with the Victorian British Standard National hive design. It is a thin walled hive which has all the environmental integrity of a cardboard box. It is cold and damp being the primary cause of the 30% losses of bee colonies every winter mostly from nosema, acarine and varroa. A survey in London that looked at the survival rates of feral colonies against those kept in any traditional hive showed that the feral ones were 3 times better off. This must tell us something. Traditional thin walled hives must be discarded and replaced with a design more conducive to the bee’s needs. It must emulate the natural environment of a cave or hollow tree with their thermal mass to assist in thermo-regulation,…….but be adjustable in size as the bees needs though the year changes. This would be a truly symbiotic (instead of exploitive) relationship as we would be assisting the bees with such an intervention. There is an embedded system out there intent on maintaining the status quo of bad beehive design. Those bee keepers who have purchased thin walled hives are in denial and they pass on to new beekeepers their strategic errors. Bee equipment supply catalogues may have a hundred pages of expensive nonsense equipment, but without the benefit of a single healthy bee hive amongst them. This needs to change. Bill Summers

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